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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  August 29, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: kenneth brenna is here. he is starring at the armory here in new york city. company from manchester, england has received extraordinary reviews. he revoked -- evoked memories of olivier. here is a look at the trailer.
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what, tell me you want speak true? >> you look like a flower. >> is this a dagger which i see before me? >> the door, uncertainty do not charge. dagger.ll be the >> order king all.
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>> orders from the province. charlie: i am pleased to have back hereh brennagh this table. have you been waiting to do this? kenneth: i have been circling it. it is the copy i first came across on our kitchen table and i was about 10 or 11 years old, my brother was five years older atn me, and he was doing it school. i saw the three wyrd sisters on the cover. this is the same copy i have with me every night, on my dressing room table. 40 years of this. charlie: is it unique to do it at this time in your life? kenneth: i think i had a great old acting school mentor who used to run the academy of dramatic art. he said you have got to wait until you are the right age, whatever that is.
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40's,d you might 30's and you are too young. i did not understand it. i revered him. somehow it came together through virtue, through meeting rob ashfield, my brilliant codirector and finding the right , the actress to be leading macbeth. the elements started to pull together. charlie: you had a 10 year absence from shakespeare. kenneth: i had, and like many things in my career, others may look at it differently. .hese accidents happen my wife talks about it. she says people say to me, does he read shakespeare by the bedside? you tell them? she said, yes, you do, because you always are. years away from
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doing it, but quite a lot of time just reading or being exposed. it is always in my life. charlie: what is this different? kenneth: i suppose every time a group of particular people do it , there is a certain elemental part of the peace, so maybe the first thing we do is to take a speech at the beginning of the play, spoken by a character called the bloody sergeant, which is the description of a battle in which macbeth is extremely brave and heroic, fearless in fact. interesting for a character who will become fearful for the rest of the play. we dared take that away and put what he describes on stage. and we wanted to do that for a couple of reasons. first he said, when you meet macbeth, you know a little of what they really mean of this year listen, savagery. a man who you imagine in first place should not have the problems that he turns out to have later on when focused with
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another murder. in battle, he seems fearless. what we wanted to chiefly do was introduced to the audience a theatrical energy which was hectic and hurtling, where they can literally be a part of the hectic nature between the circumstances of these two fundamentally, at the beginning of the play, good people who make bad decisions because the play, circumstances of the plot does not give you time to think. charlie: the new york times loved the play. they captured that very thing, hurtling. from the beginning, you have that kind of energy. they were also interested in what goes in the cardinal sin power, and why and how these two people could do this extraordinary thing. it isinks about in plays, easy to think about it in melodramatic terms, but this man killed a friend of his, who is king, whatever, and he doesn't very swiftly and without others
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being conscious. so others dismiss it as it is absurd, it happens too quickly. our production was trying to say perhaps these things only happen quickly without thought. charlie: and about his wife? kenneth: she, i can't describe her as not without ambition but a sickness, too full of the milk of human kindness. there are remarks of her being essentially good-natured, but once he has had this amazing success, reviews are brilliant as it were that duncan says fantastic, i am going to give , you willplanting you have all sorts of rewards. charlie: a new name. kenneth: a new name even, but i am giving my job to him, instead of my son. and immediately mac beth, certainly with the witches in his pronouncement, a few short
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moments ago, say, why should he be in the way? take this step that lays in my way, which i must fall down or else or leap. or leap, or leap means murder in this context. it is basically a wonderful play for putting people in this unusual, extreme position. charlie: the witches are great. you see the opening with this don't hand kind of thing. -- you see the opening with this stonehenge kind of thing. the lives of the good and the great, the power of suggestion. some would say it is a silly play because it is about a man who believes his risk up. there -- his horoscope. charlie: women of power believe in myth as well. kenneth: and also, a place in history and this idea of what the legacy is.
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macbeth and lady macbeth appear to not have children, so immortality is not guaranteed by family. so now immortality can perhaps be seized by having a name in the history books. charlie: the relationship between the two, is she more met ambitious than he is? kenneth: i think she is equally ambitious. one of the things we tried to bring in with this savagery, she says goodbye and he goes off to battle, the idea of whether he comes home or not is really very heavily questioned. when they do come back, we do present, we wanted to present this functioning relationship. they scare the pants off of each other. very passionate. charlie: the passion comes out. kenneth: ian mckellen would argue there are no successful marriages in shakespeare except to the mcbeths, which they both die and they both kill a king along the way. conversationht the
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that was essential to the show, to the performance is that he adores her. she is a natural companion for him, and i think that you know, the breakup -- charlie: is she stronger or weaker? kenneth: i can't -- they both at different times invoke the dark world. she is the first one to say right, i am inviting evil into the room. we are in a world where we believe in it. you audience have just enough because they were hanging around the stones and they were scary, inviting them in. she has to do it in the first time in an first time out. he, the balance of pulitzer -- of power switches. and then with this mail-female point of view, he says let's not do it tonight, she says you have got to seize the opportunity. then he becomes president and says leave everything alone, but he will swear off -- charlie: and the prophecy from the witches.
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what they said, therefore he went off killing anybody. kenneth: he spends elite trying to swear the circle. -- essentially trying to swear the circle. instead of being the father of kings, he tries to build both him and his son. his determination to leave no stone unturned means he won't ever sleep again. and there is no satisfaction. and the first moment we see him asking, he is with her, and they celebrate. the production house walks on at the coronation. is thus to be safely thus. i am here, i got a crown, and is nothing. charlie: safely. kenneth: to be safely, and then he splurges in paranoia. charlie: you thought about doing it in the 20th -- way in the
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future, a very futuristic kind. what drew you away from that to where you are? kenneth: this difficult thing of when you come up with a sort of, what you might call a sort of concept for the world of the play, and all of these plays are very elastic so they can adapt. shakespeare can survive anything we struck him up with. but many times, the idea has to do with productive quality. you set thet, merchant of venice in the new york stock exchange, and you get a resonance with the world of ,oney, but is also about love whether the girl is going to choose the boy or whatever it might be. mcbeth felt asic though it potentially denied the savagery and primitive nature of some of these. and malcolm later on says we will make those who helped me , the first that
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scotland ever has. you sense the journey from primitive to more sensible where people in power will give you an honor. charlie: it is fascinating about shakespeare. first of all, i think i read v, who became james i of england, would come to shakespeare plays. kenneth: he was obsessed with the subject. charlie: the story of macbeth, they think he got from the chronicles? kenneth: yes, sure. shakespeare was fantastically comprehensive in where he went for all of his stories. and also, he knew how to borrow, and he knew how to be inspired. i, therecently, alex and radiant. the partspeech about
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she sat on like a burnished throne. charlie: there is a comparison between the two. kenneth: the essential focus on the relationship between to come located people, a powerful man with a brilliant woman, and they have a balancing impact. but the bard speech in thomas north's lives of the ancient romans, etc., shakespeare coulters fairly come intensively. he scattered his gatherings, but -- charlie: every writer steals a great deal. kenneth: yeah, yeah. charlie: the results of this in terms of, when you, there are these soliloquies you have with lines, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, did you approach those differently? that you wanted to, in your own
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rendition not to be different from anyone else who had been macbeth, but some sense of how you wanted to take these different moments? and deliver them? kenneth: it is a question, for instance with tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, it grew organically out of this idea that aside from the sort of fast and existential howl as you may expect it to be, it is also -- at the beginning of the speech -- a speech of mourning for his wife. in our production, that is so underlined the passion between them, the dynamic between painful, personal loss of a woman that he adored through his own strutting and fretting and idiocy, if you like, informs the way that came out. it became very personal. what ied to take away --
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have seen sometimes in versions of the play which is perfectly fine but not to my taste, that it be to dry, too intellectually extreme. charlie: you did not want that. kenneth: i did not want it to be dry. visceral, passionate, as much emotional intelligence in the play as there is less optical intelligence. it can get very dry because the poetry is out dense, so brilliant, so complex. the double up with shakespeare is that if you connect all of that brilliance, all of that intellectual firepower at this incredible level with this sense that you are watching real live human beings, and there before the grade -- the grace of god go all of us. charlie: dealing with life and death and horror. kenneth: yeah, sure. charlie: or rage and guilt. kenneth: people, my goodness me, you can feel the atmosphere in
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the audience. what they have done in the beginning of the play and perhaps with the audience, backing away from this with their fingers throbbing, they have done it. duncan, i killed one of our friends. now what do we do they become like children almost. people may not kill a king, but they are going to do things for which they can .ever recover in one nanosecond, life will never be the same again. you feel all of those people go, oh my god. that could be me. charlie: either the choice you made or things thrust upon you. kenneth: it is terribly moving. one of the things we have been thrilled with is people find this moving. why should you feel moved or even some pathetic to characters who perform such heinous acts, but somehow shakespeare's mastery -- charlie: genius. kenneth: by the end when he
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loses her and convey either in lady macbeth sort of scent into what may appear to be madness, or what you already sense with mac beth at the end, sort of a grand thing to say, but the is soess in his soul profound, it is chilling. of a kind of dark eternity that he shows us is so terrifying that you can't help but be moved because the price he has paid for this moment of reckless ambition is so deep and profound as to shake one to the very core on his behalf. charlie: and lead to his death. kenneth: yeah. isn't it strange? in the end he is -- he is fearless and battle in the beginning. through the power of suggestion, he is fearful and guilt laden,
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and -- what the shakespeare seem to admire in his soldier poets, both fellow, macbeth? guts.blood and he is right there in the end. i am going to kiss the ground before malcolm's feet. he has the forest moved it, you weren't born of woman and a bear against me. you know what? come and get it. i love it, i love it, i love it. what else you got? show me something. he just hangs in there. somehow there is a profound respect for this man. i never ran away. and he talks to her, and compliment them both, two words, two times uses the word dauntless. and shakespeare admires, and i do, people who take whatever
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life throws at them, one foot in front of the other. do? else can you shakespeare often says that. you want to feel grander, but sometimes that is all you have to do is show up. charlie: in your own pantheon, is there 1, 2, 3 among shakespeare's works? kenneth: gosh, what a question. your life changes, you have or experience, you reacted differently to these things. you have had millie brilliant cap -- many brilliant conversations with harold bloom. , famouspolish scholar from the 1960's, we called him our contemporary. and hamlet sums up the process of living, that applies across many of these plays. right now one's soul is shaken with what macbeth does to the audience. we are there. we are the lucky vessels or which this ring passes currently
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in this -- this thing passes currently in this show. charlie: five minutes before you go on, what are you thinking, what are you saying to yourself? kenneth: i am meditating. charlie: clearing your mind. kenneth: my favorite quote from shakespeare, from hamlet is "the readiness is all." that is all i do. people say you have a wonderful time in new york? oh, yes, but partly because i am at the theater many hours before any sane human being would be. i read the lines every day, do the whole play in varying ways, trick yourself to keep it fresh. five minutes before you go on, meditate. and the other thing, i swear to god i think this is just the most fantastic thing that we have to do. it is really tingling, not an easy thing to do given one is aware of the sort of effort in
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terms of what we do, but it is absolutely glorious, glorious thing to do. i sometimes feel -- i'm a big fan of sports generally. it feels like you are in the tunnel waiting to come out before huge game. it is like tournament tennis or something. some of it is up here, some of it is in the body. in our case we start with a five minute battle. then you are -- oh it revs you up. we fight every day. it is raining, we are in the dark and 25 enormous fellows come out with cold steel. charlie: you have got to be athletic, too. . kenneth: it is more about the discipline required on this particular job than ever before. charlie: great to have you here. kenneth: thanks very much. charlie: back in a moment. ♪
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♪ mark rollins is here. he won a tony award for his performance in boeing, boeing. he is back on broadway playing the lead in to shakespeare plays in repertory. he is king richard in richard another in 12th night. he served as assistant director. charleswood of the new york times has written his presence on broadway this season has
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provided a miniature acting class in shakespearean acting. i am pleased to have mark rollins at the table. what a night. happen? his these two plays coming here for you to show your stuff? mark: has taken quite a few years. artist,cular, the director and clothing and set designer and the musical director, and the kind of core players are people that worked with me a lot when i was artistic director at the globe. when my time finished, my 10 years finished, i immediately started to want to preserve or carry on the essential core work of what we did, which was a very careful, and i hope rigorous, attempt to explore what i call original playing practices.
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hopefully known from shakespeare's day. so it took a long time. we had to figure out a way of mounting to productions that would be popular enough to raise enough money to make a whole new wardrobe of clothes as the elizabethans spend their money of what they were on their backs. charlie: what was the term you use in terms of original production? mark: original playing practices. that inspired what i want to -- the american that founded the globe. not only intellectual inquiry into how the plate might have originated, what conditions shakes your imagined when he wrote these -- shakespeare imagined when he wrote these incredible place but you could explore with live audiences and live plays. so he spent the last 25 years building the globe theater and died in 1993, and i became artistic director in 1995.
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his thinking about the globe was really the inspiration for me, which was he demanded three things. i'm a very thorough research -- three things, very, very materials,search, the first fact building since the great fire. a thousand oak trees went into it, line cloth, all kinds of old building techniques and original craft should be used as well. charlie: so the premise is it would be more inside of shakespeare's head if we did that? kenneth: we confirmed -- mark: we confirmed we would learn more about the reason he wrote the place and the reason he wrote them. -- the plays and the reason he wrote them. the amount of time it takes, how fast it takes, how fast did they play, were the place cut two hours, did they play very rapidly? was it two hours just to do with
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amphitheaters, versus playing inside? for an actor, the space is remarkable. it is daylight. the only played in the afternoon. there are two whopping great pillars, so there is nowhere you can stand where some people in the audience won't see you, but everyone can hear you like a bell. to the fact that at that time a commentator like myself, if they went to the globe and say, i want to hear julius user, they never said, i went to see a player at the globe, they went to hear it. it immediately demanded in my time at least, a lot more rigor on eloquence. charlie: before we talk about years as plays, 10 artistic director at the globe theater. if you were asked to give a last lecture about shakespeare, what would you want us to know? mark: what comes to the top of
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my head may not be the deepest , your, but you just can't will never get to the bottom of his sense of humor and sense of wit and humor. it is well-known that one of the great things he is really good at doing is marrying opposites, juxtaposing, opposing sounds, hot eyes, cold fire. romeo says at one point. also juxtaposing tragedy and comedy. and his deep sense of humor even the most tragic moments -- even in the most tragic moments still staggers me. i don't generally find it myself. i find in performance with an audience there is something about -- charlie: the audience tells you what is yours. collective thing that happens when a bunch of people focus on one thing. maybe religions know this and have known it forever, but it happens in theaters as well. a bunch of people focusing on
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or one-story, and the case of shakespeare, and they are all in the same room, it feels like each individual is capable of something more when we are together focused on something, as if the internet is a manifestation of something that exists naturally in human consciousness. that there is a collective consciousness in the room. charlie: the brain, the coalescing of one thing is much larger than the sum of the individual parts. kenneth: so the -- mark: the which became the globe, which is more rectangular square shaped, and the globe is circular. that collective experience of playing there for 10 years really awakened this to me, more the sense of humor of the author. it is the thing i would say that i would, i would hope would take a long time before the universe destroys that.
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charlie: your interest in shakespeare goes way back, to high school? mark: it does. i skipped the rest of the party and just played hamilton when i was 16. [laughter] charlie: you have since played hamilton -- hamlet, romeo, macbeth. 52 productionsen of plays by shakespeare or his contemporaries, middleton, people who at the time -- charlie: is it any better training for an actor? mark: i hope so. there are much better actors than me. charlie: no, no, to get into shakespeare and shakespearean calendars. is that the best possible training for an actor? mark: no, i would not say that. i am not someone who's only opinion is shakespeare should be meant for everyone or loved by everyone. charlie: or somehow because of the range, it gives you an opportunity to dig deep in understanding human nature,
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therefore understanding acting or larger ability to inhabit different characters? mark: it depends how you approach it. you and i could get a set of paints where we do not necessarily come up with the same thing. charlie: it does not come from the painting, it comes from the head. mark: it comes from your life and the way in which you deal with shakespearean material. orderedknow that robert tracy or cliff -- brando actually gives the best shakes. performances for my taste i have ever heard like mark anthony. also you get the testing performance from gilder, very fast. incredibly fast. charlie: why is brando as marc anthony a good? mark: because he is so presence. those words had never been said
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before, and he absolutely needs to convince the friend, the romans, the countrymen -- said at that has been this table before. convince people that these words have never been said before, and i am just the one. thank you for coming. it is great to have you here. ♪ charlie: stephen fry is here, he is a writer, documentary maker and lyrical activist. he has interviewed steve jobs, been to present and he thought he would devote his life to studying shakespeare. he's making his broadway debut playing malvolio in shakespeare's 12th night. i am pleased to have him here in this table. how is it to be on broadway in this remarkable production and laying with -- stephen: it is remarkable not
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just because it is the greatest stage acting in the world, mark rylance playing richard the third, it is a double bill. the great sam wanamaker, we had to bring in slightly. the globe had been like a table. and tvlike a wooden o, is a wooden o. that is like expanding it. anywayhave half of it his people standing. it is the yard, and they are called the groundlings. they would pay a penny. there were grander people, aristocracy would sit and watch. is more or less the same now. for a long time in line to get a standing up seats , because they love it.
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and the relationship you have with the audience is, there is nothing like it. you realize every soliloquy is a conversation. charlie: it is an all-male cast. stephen: it is like an original practices cast. so every single element of the play is as far as drastically we know, absolutely as it would have been in shakespeare's day. we also note 12 night was performed indoors, in a temple, one of the holes, medieval holes the -- halls used by lawyers. we know what it looks like because it has not changed. and it happened a lot because it was pretty famous. during the hours of daylight, you can use the wooden theater, but you have the rest of the year to keep your actors and from starvation. toyou 02 lawyers -- you go
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lawyers halls and play your play. and this new one was clearly written for indoor. you can sort of tell. and for intelligent lawyers and people to come watch, which is not to say it is a very difficult play. it is hilarious, and is fast. charlie: i want to talk about your character, but let me go back. did you want to be a six. scholar? -- did you want to be a shakespearean scholar? cambridge. stephen: i found it easiest to write on shakespeare, i loved his plays, performing them at cambridge. i thought i would do a thesis, doctoral thesis on some aspect of shakespeare. and go to a corner of the college somewhere. one of my contemporaries has become the greatest shakespearean scholar in
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britain, jonathan bates. charlie: talk to me about the part. malvolio? stephen: malvolio. very some -- very hard to say who is right. american english is said to be the current english of shakespeare. malvolio means, it is sort of latin, and it means ill will. , which means ill disposed. bizarrely there are these and a grammatic withctions -- anagramatic viola and malvolio. viola is in mourning and that her brother dies. so she is in charge of this vast estate and she has a steward, malvolio. and she has an uncle, uncle
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toby, who is at drinker. and she has a chambermaid and a fool who tells us things you don't like to hear about. and the nearby duke is deeply heo love with her, but swears in seven years you will wear a veil. the shipwreck happens where her twin brother and sister, each believe the other drowned. the sister comes up and the sea captain who has rescued her, she said, what can a woman to on her own, what is it? oh, my brother is drowned, how will i get back to where i come from? i have this trunk of clothes with my brother clothes. address me as a man, take me -- dress me as a man, take me to the local place. and this man is a unit, so probably a black boy. she dresses as a boy, called herself rosario.
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to fall olivia starts in love, but we know she is a girl. and sebastian has survived and looks exactly the same, and he is being taken away by antonio, an old pirate. we don't know how, but it is used by those who push the homoerotic nature of shakespeare. he talks about absolute devotion and love, pure love of sebastian. the final,meet until absolutely farcical moments where they are on stage at the same time looking identical. and antonio, he says sebastian, are you? he says, how can you tell? he said, how have you divided yourself? and they look at each other, and the can't believe it. viola canns that actually mandate -- mary
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sebastian, who looks exactly the same as the girl she wanted to marry, and the girl to marry the duke. and i have a terrible trick played on me because i am a shape of things to come, a puritan. i am described as a curative. devil,s about the whether he thinks will impress people. but i certainly don't like other people. i like to be the boss, and i am pleased with myself and assume every buddy adores me. they play this very, very cruel trick on me. it looks as if it is a secret from olivia, the countess, to me to say she loves me and telling me to where particular clothes -- wear particular clothes. and to smile all the time. and she hates the other person, and does not like people smiling when she is grieving for her brother. malvolio themately
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fool who ends up in prison. charlie: tell me how you approached, and what was it for you as an actor to get inside of malvolio? stephen: some people mention he pompous, self-- a regarding ass. people often find it pretentious. job is simply to entertain people. we don't necessarily need to explain the process, but people ask so we rightfully and her. and you have to believe -- we rightfully answer. and you have to believe these are real people. in general -- mobile you thinks he is taking the house -- malvolio thinks he is taking care of the house. a thinks he would make wonderful husband for olivia and thinks it there is an example, the lady of the straight married the wardrobe. there are local references to
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times when a servant has married the mistress or master. so he just goes off into a fantasyland. other people have played him quite wicked or highly comic. charlie: thank you, thank you. ♪
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♪ here.e: john lythgoe is he has won emmys and tony awards
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, twice oscar-nominated for his work in film. he is playing one of the most demanding and challenging parts ever written for the stage. obviously you know i am talking about king lear. this is a shakespeare in the park production at delacorte theater in new york central park through august 17. i am very pleased to have john lithgow on this program. john: great to be here, charlie. kingie: how does john and lear come here together? john: the plate is much greater than i am. i have been nagging someone to consider me for it. probably, the first i mentioned it to him is probably long before i should have played it. but now i think i have just entered that interesting window of opportunity for lear, when your young enough to play it when you still have the strength
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but old enough to play it because you can bring authenticity to an old man losing his viability. i know it better than i even realized. i have seen it so many times in my life. i played it in college. be i figured it is going to such a demanding part. the rehearsal period is going so tough. the last thing i want to do is to go home and study words at night. so i learned it completely cold on the first day of reversal. the first time i have ever done that. sure enough, i mean, it was a process of stamina building, rehearsing it. charlie: talk about learning. you had a ucla student coming in, he would you use a you knew the lines that led to -- he you so you knew the lines to come in? john: in my days on third rock from the sun, i worked out an extremely efficient way of
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memorizing great gobs of material because it came at you very fast and was very wordy and fast-paced show. i trained my assistant to feed my lines with a three minute pause, three second pause between every single word. and i would drill the line in all those pauses, and i can learn a speech like that once through. that is how i went about studying. charlie: the idea of memorizing things is a great fascination for me. john: it gets harder as you get older. charlie: making speeches. john: yes, right, that whole thing. with lear, there is also a server per -- superb internal logic to the writing.
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i have absorbed it over the years, all those brilliant and vivid speeches. charlie: what is the challenge of playing it outside? challenges less of a than a marvelous opportunity. it is a big play full of gigantic passions and gigantic ideas, and i am a very, very tolerable actor. it is as big as the big outdoors. at the delacorte with his hungry audience, an audience of passionate new york theatergoers who have waited all day to get their tickets, they are so hungry for it, they are completely gripped by it. when the elements come along, we had two nights of rain, and yet we performed the thing anyway, they stay right with us. in fact, they think it is even better. after all, i do get to say "blow winds." charlie: the idea of so many
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great actors performing this, did preparation include watching, understanding, looking at those performances not too interpreted -- not to copy them but to understand the range of invitation -- of interpretation? john: i calculated this over the years, and you remember all sorts of things about individual performances. the most vivid i think with the very first couple of times i size, i saw -- couple of times i saw, i saw polska appealed do it. that was look -- puaaul scoffied do it. there have been a lot of lears, and i stopped seeing them. the last one was derek jacobi. i did not see frank gore simon russell beale or others. but at some point i had to make it completely my own with no one sitting on my shoulder. charlie: did you see it, what
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the production put on by your father? john: no, he did not put it on, but when he put king lear on, i was seven years old. my parents you i wouldn't last to the end. wasthe first time i saw it in 1962, the first season of shakespeare in the park at the delacorte with frank silvera in the role. and he completely throttled me. remember remember, you just the impact of a play like this. it was the first time i saw death of a salesman. charlie: are there other things you very much want to play that when you look at all the things you have done, are there missing elements for you in terms of great characters? john: i would say the only one wasjohn: king lear. i don't have any bucket list to play or part anymore. i am about to do a delicate balance on broadway, and i am
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thrilled to be doing that, but it is not something i am waiting my whole career to do. king lear is. in my experience, all of the most exciting things i have done have been other people's bright ideas, things that i never even thought of myself for. other people think of you in ways that you don't, sometimes in ways you don't think of yourself. charlie: tell me who he is, who is lear? john: in our lear, we see him as a very exuberant and manic and exciting man, beloved monarch. but he is aging to the point where he is probably always had temper. of manic sullivan'san wonderful concept, in my opinion , the first time you see him he is extremely excited about this plan for dividing his kingdom. like it is something he has not really thought through yet.
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and his fool is in the scene. you get a sense of him being a very robust man with a huge, open heart, and a great sense of humor, but he has aged more than people realize. charlie: some people ask the question, is he mad from the beginning, or does he lose his mind over the process of the play? john: that is annexed to a good question, and is the number one challenge is calculating how he goes mad. there is beginnings of a propensity of madness. i think when he explodes completely irrationally at cordelia, it is a shock to her. she has probably seen his temper before, but she has never seen him like this. she has never seen him that insane. this is the first in his whole life -- the person in his whole life he loves the most, and it is because of the intensity of that love that his anger has such a reaction. for everyone, it is a new shock.
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they talk about how we are seeing more and more of this. and then in succeeding scenes, you see different versions of madness as he declines into a real derangement and dementia, and the entire challenge with exquisiteivan's like guidance, is just finding those benchmarks, finding the moments. for an example, the moment when hugeadness, he has these temper tantrums with his daughters, all three of them. that propelled him a certain distance towards madness. but then he is shot out in a wild and crazy storm. then he meets a mad beggar, and the sight of that mad beggar, poor tom, who is edgar in disguise, sort of takes it all into yet another degree.
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suddenly he sees, this is the solution. an on accommodated man, no more with such a bore -- poor bear four. he is going mad. it is taking him toward -- charlie: as he is going mad, it is taking him to some sort of -- john: yeah, madness is vision. it is cauterizing wounds, clearing his brain. charlie: when you recite shakespeare, when you speak shakespeare, what do you feel? john: i am so in touch with the gods of expression. [laughter] john: i feel like it is a musician, sightreading harmless chamber music. a lot of shakespeare is very familiar to me by now, so it is like a lot of classical music is familiar to musicians, it is just, i read those speeches.
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is this incredible intersection of poetry and emotion that shakespeare, to be, he is the very best example of that. you can look at it purely in terms of the beauty of the language, or you can look at it in terms of the power. charlie: the meaning. john: and shakespeare's extraordinary empathy. he managed to do the same thing with the same phrases, you know, that thing i just quoted you. charlie: where do you put lear in all of the characters you have played in shakespeare? john: i actually have not done that much. charlie: how many have you done? i have done about 20 plays, but most of it was before i was 20 years old and in small roles. i did play macbeth in college. i played malvolio with the royal shakespeare company a few years ago. but this is the first time i have taken on one of the
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gigantic roles. charlie: is it something you wish you had done more? john: i stupidly turned down hamlet a few times. i had other things to do. charlie: was it things like television? john: i think it was other plays or -- charlie: there is this sort of thing that people who are not of the theater think -- that would be me -- that every actor feels like it is worth his soul, i have to take on hamlet. you did not feel that? john: i did not have a burning desire. i have to tell you, to be honest, what i like working on most is new material. i love working with writers and creating something that nobody has seen before. i think there may be something beautiful going on. this is very much my father's world. snob. and i am a terrible i only want to be in great
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productions of shakespeare. charlie: thank you for joining us, see you next time. ♪
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>> with all the respect to george stephanopoulos, wtf. >> you only live once. >> that is what i say when i want to buy something. >>


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